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|No Wall Between Church and State|
|Commentary/Politics - Letters to the Editor|
|Tuesday, 10 October 2006 22:42|
Mr. Jeff Ignatius, in his article "Mixed Colors, Mixed Messages" in the September 23-October 3, 2006, Reader, made the statement "in the sense that the barrier between church and state is explicitly and clearly articulated in the Constitution." I don't know what Constitution he is reading, but the one I am familiar with says in the First Amendment that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Not one word about separation of church and state.
If Mr. Ignatius had bothered to read a little about the process and discussions leading to the wording of the Constitution and the amendments, he would not have found any conversation advocating separation of church and state. As a matter of fact, George Washington said that morality cannot be maintained without religion. Morris, the governor of Pennsylvania who physically wrote the Constitution, said that "Education should teach the precepts of religion." And lastly, Fisher Ames, who wrote the First Amendment, asked, "Why should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book?"
In a court ruling, in the case of The Commonwealth Vs. Nesbit (1859), the court was very specific as to when the government could legitimately intrude in religion, but whether public prayer, the use of scripture, etc., the government was not to interfere.
If Mr. Ignatius and others really do believe in the separation of church and state, they are missing the main part of the Constitution; the only restriction mentioned is the restriction of the government to interfere with the "free exercise thereof." There are no restrictions on the people, nor is there any restriction of religion as far as property lines are concerned.
The Critic's Responsibility
I never expected to write a letter to the editor of a paper in defense of a theatre critic. As an actor and director I've never felt particularly motivated to protect a critic from what may seem to be his or her just desserts. But Megan Ridl's letter (River Cities' Reader Issue 600, September 27-October 3, 2006) criticizing Mike Schulz's review "The Playwright Did It" is not only unjust criticism; it misunderstands the role of the critic.
Mike's first responsibility is to the audience and his readers. The contributions of playwright, director, actors, designers, technicians, and artists to a theatrical endeavor are all fair game for the critic, but when a play is poorly written, most of the other contributions become irrelevant. What's the point of reviewing the performances of actors of a poorly written play? What would he say? "The play's poorly written but the performers and the director do a good job of presenting the playwright's bad writing"? (It reminds me of the proverbial joke about restaurants: "The food's terrible but at least they give you large portions.")
It's not Mike's responsibility to provide feedback to all the performers in a play. If a critic chooses to focus on the playwright, the performances, or the production values of a play, that's his/her prerogative. If the most compelling aspect of the evening is the fact that the play is poorly written, I, a potential audience member, want to know.
Democracy in America: Past Its Expiration Date
In 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, noticed a continuing pattern in the advance and decline of the world's democracies. He stated then that a democracy would continue to exist until such time that the voters discover that they can literally vote themselves gifts from the public treasury. From the moment that revelation is made, the majority proceeds to vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury. The final result is that every democracy finally collapses due to loose fiscal policy. That collapse is always followed by a dictatorship.
Tyler charted the ages of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history - an average existence of about 200 years. Every single time, these nations progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from great courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, and finally from dependence back to bondage.
Isn't it time Republicans and Democrats alike take pause and examine the current trend to take from the public treasury to satisfy every whim of their constituents?
Fiscal restraint and sound fiscal policy is sorely needed if we, as Americans, wish to continue to enjoy a free, democratic society. Wake up America - our 200 years expired decades ago.
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